With Christmas just around the corner (25 days or 600 hours), it's time to be festive and start thinking of gifts, food, sparkly lights and that all important Christmas work party that we all love. Sadly, not for managers including site managers and HSE managers. 

We close our business at Christmas so we understand how it can add additional stress, but it doesn't need to be this way. Preparing for Christmas downtime can ensure that you don't faace any unexpected disruptions on Christmas Day or any unpleasant shocks when you return in the new year.

It is important for all businesses (regardless of industry) to prepare for holiday shutdowns, however it is particularly important for the construction sector due to an increasing threat of theft. The knock on effects that lockdown has had on production, steel shortages and high global demand for construction equipment has resulted in a reported 50% increase in crime targeting the construction sector since last year, according to Farsight. Sites must be adequately prepared for targeted crime, especially during the holidays.

We have put together a checklist to help you safely shutdown your site over Christmas.

Even if you still have Christmas shopping and gift wrapping to do, preparing your site for shutdown over the festive period should be high on your prioity list!

Ultimate construction site Christmas shutdown checklist

  1. Check that all gates, fencing and entrance points are locked and secure.
  2. Remove valuables from the scene by taking them off-site or storing them away safely.
  3. All containers must be locked.
  4. Store away any materials and equipment on site.
  5. All excavations should be surrounded by a barrier or covered.
  6. To lessen the danger of arson, remove garbage and combustible objects.
  7. In high-risk regions, consider installing CCTV or patrols.

With most businesses being closed for the longest stretch of time around Christmas, it is important that security is a priority. You don't want any unwanted visitors or difficulties while you're away!

You have a legal responsibility to keep your site secure and prevent unauthorised entry. Ensuring that your site's fencing is robust and unbroken, that signage is visible, and that all access points are closed and locked is essential. Do a walk around your perimeter, and check for any flaws, evidence of damage, or locations where security is lacking.

According to the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

'Every employers has the responsibility to conduct their business in such a way to the extent reasonably practical, those not in this employ who may be impacted are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.'

If you are going to leave your site unattended for an extended period of time, consider what extra precautions you'll need to take to keep it safe and secure. Every site is different and will have it's own set of security concerns.

For example, locations in more built-up areas or occupied building may be more vulnerable to problems like trespass, thefts, or arson than sites in low-risk rural settings.

If you're in a high-risk area, consider patrols and CCTV as a deterrent as well to watch problems early. Remove any very expensive goods from the site, or hide them from view, to lessen the danger of theft. Criminals may target empty construction sites over the holidays so make sure you store any tools and equipment that have to be kept on-site in a secure storage cabinet.

During downtime, your facility may become a target for arsonists. Good practices, such as keeping skips away from the site boundary and buildings, can assist to mitigate the dangers. Taking out trash and waste products prior to the shutdown might also deter someone seeking for a quick buck.

It's also worth remembering that the Christmas season might bring some inclement weather. We may desire for snow, but we do occasionally get storms, wind and rain. While you are not prepared to labour it in, it must be operational. Storms have already wrecked havoc on scaffolding and other temporary structures like site fences. Gale-force gusts have pulled entire scaffold constructions down. Will your site be able to withstand the bad weather?

Although you may not want to be distracted over the holidays, having emergency contact numbers visible and ready ensures you caan be contacted and immediately address any serious issues before they worsen.

Your probably looking forward to spending time with friends and family during the holidays, and by protecting your site and organising the downtime ahead of time, you'll have a higher chance of having a worry-free well deserved break.

Are you winter prepared? Hyde Park Environmental is here to help ensure you have all your winter essentials. Read our Winter Preparation Checklist for more site safety tips during the cold season.